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Game of Kings

Three straight blowout losses on the road to start the 2007-08 season left the Sacramento Kings pining to come home. After winning their opener at Arco Arena, the Kings are anxious to take the court again in one of the NBA's loudest venues - even if it means facing LeBron James and the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

Sacramento will try to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season Friday night when it hosts Cleveland.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Cleveland -6 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 194.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 83% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland -6 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

The Kings were never competitive during their season-opening road swing, trailing by an average of 20 points at halftime against New Orleans, San Antonio and Dallas. Things appeared to be going that way again Tuesday night against Seattle as Sacramento trailed by 13 at the half, but a 31-point performance from guard Kevin Martin helped the Kings turn things around and escape with a 104-98 victory in their home opener.

"Thirteen points in the NBA is nothing," said Kings coach Reggie Theus, who notched his first win. "They've showed no quit. Now, we've got our issues but quitting and not playing hard is not one of them."

Sacramento (1-3) has been missing veteran point guard Mike Bibby, who is expected to be out until mid-December with a torn ligament in his right thumb. But Martin has been one of the top scorers in the league so far, averaging 26.8 points, more than a six-point increase from last season.

John Salmons, a fifth-year swingman who averaged a career-high 8.5 points last season, is scoring 21.5 a contest and registering more than five rebounds and five assists.

The Kings' main problem has been on the defensive end, where they've allowed 105.3 point per game. They're also at the bottom of the league in rebounding, pulling in just 34.3 a game.

Theus, to put it mildly, stated that rebounding "has been a problem."

Cleveland (2-3) will be trying to rebound from a last-second loss at Utah Wednesday, the third game of a six-game western trip that it's started 1-2. The Cavaliers led Phoenix going into the third quarter before falling 103-92 Sunday and then held off Golden State 108-104 on Tuesday.

Utah led most of the way Wednesday, but James tied the score at 101 by hitting a desperation 3-pointer with six seconds remaining in the game. Instead of calling a timeout the Jazz pushed the ball upcourt, and Deron Williams drove the length of the floor for a layup to give Utah a 103-101 win.

"Great move. We expected him to call a timeout. But I should have known," said James, who finished with 32 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists - his 11th career triple double. "Great play. Nothing we could do."

James hasn't been shooting the ball particularly well, hitting 43.5 percent of his field goals and only 64.3 percent of his free throws. But he's still averaging 27.6 points, and his 9.2 rebounds and 8.2 assists are career bests.

"LeBron gets a triple-double like that and you hope to come away with the win, but (it didn't happen)," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "Our guys could have caved here a couple of times, but (they) kept fighting and fighting."

The Cavaliers have missed the energy and rebounding of unsigned free agent Anderson Varejao, but center Zydrunas Ilgauskas is doing his best to pick up the slack. The 7-foot-3 Lithuanian is averaging a career-high 17.4 points and his 14.0 rebounds per game are among the best in the NBA.

Cleveland has won three of its past four against the Kings, including two straight in Sacramento. Prior to that, the Cavs had dropped nine in a row in the series, including James' NBA debut, a 106-92 loss on Oct. 29, 2003 at Arco.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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